Years ago when we bought new snow tires for our Honda Civic, I bought wheel covers for them as well. They just seemed to make the car look, a little more, well, finished. I believe they were about $11 each from Canadian Tire. So for $44 (plus tax which is outrageous in Canada to pay for our awesome universal healthcare system) the car looked a little better in the winter.

I remember seeing other cars with snow tires without wheel covers and looking at them very smugly. “Really, you can afford a car but you can’t afford a few more bucks for wheel covers? COME ON!”

As time went on the wheel covers began to show the wear and tear of being installed in the fall and removed in the spring. They are made of plastic but a tight piece of steel kept them in place. So each spring I had to wedge them off. The plastic got more fragile. Last spring when they came off one of them broke, so that was that.

This year, thanks to the mild start to the winter, I was able to hold off on installing the snow tires.  And when I finally did put the snow tires on there were only three wheel covers … well two good ones, one questionable one, and one busted one.

The situation reminded me of the classic “All in The Family” episode in the 70’s in which Archie and his son-in-law Michael (who Archie called Meathead – thanks to the readers who pointed out when I mistakenly said “Meatball”) were sitting on a bed putting their shoes on. They were from different generations and couldn’t agree on anything. Archie put both socks on, then his shoes. Michael put one sock, then a shoe, then the other sock and the final shoe. Archie was infuriated by the idiocy of Michaels’ approach to putting on shoes and a huge argument ensued. Archie’s final rationalization for his ‘correct’ method of doing it, was that if there was suddenly a fire and he had to run outside, at least he had socks on both feet. Michael’s rationalization was that if there was a fire and he had one sock and one shoe on, at least he could hop through the snow and not get frostbite. You’ve gotta love good sitcom writing.

So, using the Michael theory I decided to put the wheel covers on just one side of the car, front and back, rather than having just one on each side … which I think would be very un-Feng-sway-ish. I chose to put them on the driver’s side because I get into that side more often, and at least if I am on the highway, since I tend to drive in the slow lane, someone passing me would see my wheel covers and I think was one of them. But in the ‘you can’t win’ department I realized that my car is usually parked front ways near the garage door, and so most of the time I look at the car and see the passenger side with no wheel covers and realize I have now joined the ranks of those people who apparently just don’t give a hoot about what other people think and they don’t bother with these things. I must admit that car looks a little more aggressive without the shiny happy covers.

It comes down to this. I could afford wheel covers. A decade after I bought the first set I probably won’t get the exact same design, but I could get two new ones and since you can’t really ever look at both sides of the car simultaneously, no one would be the wiser. The reality though is that I am just sick of having to buy stuff. Really, really sick of buying stuff … that’s made from oil, or was mined from the ground, or was cut down from a forest … I’m just really tired of the whole process.

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This was further brought home when Michelle pointed out that we were on the last vacuum bag. Apparently the vacuum we’re using is no longer produced so you can’t get bags to fit it. (We bought the last 3 bags available at Canadian Tire and Michelle has looked online for others but they are outrageously expensive.) When I see how many different brands and models of vacuums there are, I guess this doesn’t surprise me. Then you have the whole ‘Dyson’ factor, with a new technology making all the older technologies obsolete. We have discussed purchasing a Dyson and like the idea of not having to buy bags, but they seem outrageously expensive and our current vacuum works okay. It’s not the world’s best, but we have a dog, 2 cats, we heat with wood, use straw for bedding for our chickens (most of which seems to get tracked into the house) plus plus plus…. We have mostly hardwood floors so we mostly sweep. Michelle says all sweeping does is move the dirt around and deposits it into the cracks between the boards in our 1888 hardwood floors. My response is … “and that’s a problem because…?”

So I am trying a new test. I took the last bag which was filled to overflowing, and pulled all the stuff out it and dumped it in the woods. It’s mostly dust and animal fur … and little pieces of straw. It will return to nature fast enough and won’t take any room in a landfill. And now, voila…. I have a bag for the vacuum which will extend its useful life!

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I know, you don’t have to say it. I have started down the long, slow road to questionable sanity and eventual homelessness. All I need is a shopping cart and I’m on my way.

And this is not to diminish in anyway the plight of people who end up in these situations. From an environmental perspective, they are awesome. They live very lightly on the planet and are often making good use of objects which others no longer find useful but which have much usefulness left in them.

I’m kind of determined to not buy a new vacuum. I have a shop-vac vacuum which I bought to vacuum up water when the guesthouse floods. If it can vacuum up water, which is really heavy, I’m sure it can handle some dust and straw.

From the constant on-going buying frenzy that I see at the Big Box stores I don’t think there is any chance of a mass “I’m not going to buy stuff anymore” movement. I think we are too hard-wired to like spending money and bringing home new stuff. I readily admit that when we moved off-grid 18 years ago I brought more than my share of new power tools, and was pretty happy with the whole process. But now I’ve had enough and am going hardcore making do with what I’ve got. Retail executives should be aware, this could be the straw that broke the camel’s back and starts an avalanche of anti-consumerism. Or just the straw that gets swept up in my broom and tossed out the back door.